Webaroo Technology has raised a $10 million round of funding for their product SMSGupShup, an SMS-based community site in India, according to Pluggd.in. The round, the third for the company, was co-led by Helion Venture Partners and Charles River Ventures.
SMSGupShup is a community site that enables users to join groups according to their interests and receive updates through their mobile phones via SMS. Very similar to Twitter, in that you can send and receive mobile updates to your friends, family and other group members (without the downtime). SMSGupShup has over 7 million subscribers and 300,000 publishers. They see a much lower proportion of web visitors as mobile phones in India outnumber computers almost 7 to 1.
While Twitter is mostly used for casual communications and notifications, SMSGupShup is used for services that are critical to a lot people. For example, fishermen can receive tide and weather information, and people can pass along emergency information to locals who don’t have televisions or computers. The site has seen a huge rise in growth, with the SMSGupShup community having grown from 1 million subscribers in January to the current 7 million.
Webaroo, originally launched as a service that allowed users to see cached web content when they are offline. Founders Rakesh Mathur (founder of Armedia, Junglee, Stratify) and Beerud Sheth (founder of Elance) presented their startup in July 2006 at the TechCrunch-sponsored Connected Innovators program at the Supernova conference. Two years later, they have changed their approach, focusing on their core offering, SMSGupShup. Webaroo also offers their original product Webaroo for Notebooks, a mobile client, a search utility called Search Radar, and a Wikipedia browsing tool called WikiSlice.
Helion Venture Partners and Charles River Ventures join previous investors Hummer Winblad Venture Partners ($1.5 million Series A), and Cambrian Ventures, Lloyd George Asian Plus Fund, and HTSG ($10 million Series B), bringing their total funding to $21.5 million.
Update: We’ve tracked down a source that says this is a premature announcement, and that the funding hasn’t closed yet.